Left-wing hatred, in of all places Nashville, has just politicized a country music institution.
Rather than learn a lesson from the NFL and Hollywood, a small but highly vocal group of people in Music City has managed to pressure the Country Music Association (CMA) into having former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee withdraw as a board member from the group’s educational arm, the CMA Foundation. Last week the CMA announced two new members of the board of this charitable foundation, Huckabee and singer Chris Young.
Following the announcement, the CMA was the recipient of a hate-filled backlash over its choice of Huckabee because of the former governor’s political and religious views and solid support of President Donald Trump, as well as the fact that he is the proud father of President Trump’s current press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Despite the fact that Huckabee’s appointment to the board was completely separate and apart from his political activity and cultural views, some in the industry for which Nashville is best known targeted their personal animus directly at the former governor.
The most vicious public statement came from country music manager Jason Owen, who happens to own Sandbox, a management company that represents Faith Hill, Little Big Town, and Kacey Musgraves, and co-owns, along with songwriter-producer Shane McAnally, the record label Monument Records. McAnally has written and produced songs for Musgraves, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, and Miranda Lambert.
Owen labeled Huckabee’s appointment “grossly offensive” and “a shameful choice” by the CMA and its leaders. The music industry manager withdrew the support of Sandbox and Monument, declaring that the artists he handles would not work on behalf of the CMA Foundation.
Owen also intimated that he would pull his support and artists away from the entire CMA over Huckabee’s appointment, specifically focusing on the former presidential candidate’s views on marriage and his support of the NRA.
Since Karen Fairchild, who sits on the foundation board, is also one of the group members of Little Big Town, a client of Owen’s, the CMA leadership feared that Fairchild would resign from the board.
Being the consummate professional and gentleman that he is, Huckabee resigned a mere 24 hours after the announcement of his appointment in order to save the organization from having to deal with any potential turmoil.
Huckabee’s departure occurred a few hours after Owen published his screed on an industry website.
Huckabee provided an explanation for why he had decided to resign, and he did it in the form of a posting on his website, which read as follows: “I genuinely regret that some in the industry were so outraged by my appointment that they bullied the CMA and the Foundation with economic threats and vowed to withhold support for the programs for students if I remained.”
Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, has impeccable credentials as a public servant, and his involvement in charitable endeavors is highly commendable. As a former presidential candidate, Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and finished in delegate count just behind John McCain and Mitt Romney. He additionally has to his credit the accomplishment of having hosted a successful television talk show on the Fox News Channel and currently hosts a television show on TBN.
Huckabee has been an avid musician since he was 11 years old. He is an accomplished bass guitar player and made his playing of the bass guitar a trademark practice on both his Fox News Channel show and on his current TBN show.
When he served as the governor of Arkansas, Huckabee developed a reputation as an effective leader in the area of education policy, and he is recognized as an expert in helping to integrate the arts into the school curriculum.
The small but vociferous group that derailed Huckabee’s appointment to the board of the CMA Foundation has ended up depriving the organization of having a highly qualified member serve with distinction. Since music education is so central to the CMA Foundation mission, losing an individual of Huckabee’s caliber, someone who would have made germane and invaluable contributions to the CMA board’s primary objectives, is an outrage.
Through their actions and rhetoric, certain hate-filled individuals have provided the ugliest of illustrations of exactly what discrimination looks like.
It is difficult to fathom that the country music capital of the world is lacking in individuals who are willing to speak out on behalf of an individual whose faith parallels that of country music legends Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Josh Turner, and so many others.
“The message here is ‘Hate Wins,’” Huckabee wrote on his web site. “Bullies succeeded in making it untenable to have ‘someone like me’ involved. I would imagine however that many of the people who buy tickets and music are not that ‘unlike me.’”
The truth of the matter is Huckabee’s religious, political, and cultural views are shared by an enormous segment of the American population, many of whom were, up until now, country music consumers.
When these folks find out about the manner in which Huckabee has been treated, they just might adjust their music playlists as well as their buying habits, which may bode poorly for some contemporary country music artists and products.